Ramblin' Jack Elliot














Ramblin' Jack Elliot
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Ramblin' Jack Elliott is definitely on a roll! Some 48 years after he first showed up at Woody Guthrie's house and stayed two years according to legend the rest of the world has finally begun to grant him the kind of mass recognition his fellow performers have shown for many years. It started in 1996 with his winning the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album for South Coast. That followed in 1998 with the release of his HighTone Records debut, Friends of Mine, which generated critical praise, features on CNN and CBS Sunday Morning and another Grammy nomination. The year was capped with Elliott being named a recipient of the National Medal of Arts, the nation's most prestigious arts award, in a ceremony held at The White House. On his new album, The Long Ride, Ramblin' Jack hooks up once again with producer/guitarist Roy Rogers, who also did the honors on Friends of Mine. In Roy Rogers, whom Jack first met at a gig some five years ago, Elliott has found a kindred spirit interested in the roots of American music and a guitar player non-pareil. Their partnership also resulted in two song collaborations on the new album, "Now He's Just Dust In The Wind" and "True Blue Jeans." A master storyteller and the subject of many stories as well Ramblin' Jack Elliott's career parallels the growth of the American folk music boom from the early 1950s when he first "rambled" around the country with Woody Guthrie (his major musical influence), through the early 60s when he influenced a young Bob Dylan in New York's Greenwich Village. He was hailed by the New York Times and Newsweek, which called him "one of the few authentic voices in folk music." After moving to California in 1965, Jack connected again with Dylan in the mid-1970s as a full-fledged member of the Rolling Thunder Revue. Before, during and after that time came many trips around the world, which gave Jack more inspiration for stories and songs. In 1996, Jack won the Grammy for his South Coast album and was also chosen as the recipient of the prestigious Bill Graham Lifetime Achievement Award at San Francisco's Bay Area Music Awards. Then came Friends of Mine, which teamed him up with a host of artists he's toured with over the years: Guy Clark, Nanci Griffith, Arlo Guthrie, Emmylou Harris, John Prine, Peter Rowan, Rosalie Sorrels, Tom Waits, Jerry Jeff Walker and Bob Weir. These were clearly people who not only treasured Jack as a wonderful resource of traditional American music, but also revered his rightfully owned status as a true original. Stories about Jack abound, like the time he played for James Dean in a Hollywood parking lot; or the time Jack Kerouac read him the entire then unpublished manuscript for On The Road; or the time he serenaded a group of young British schoolchildren on a railway platform, later running into one of the kids years later who said the encounter prompted him to buy his first guitar. The "kid" was Mick Jagger. For the sessions that became The Long Ride, producer Rogers brought Jack into the studio backed by a sympathetic group of musicians and special guests, including long time Tom Russell guitarist Andrew Hardin and harmonica player Norton Buffalo, as well as Roy, himself, on guitar. In addition, four artists make special vocal appearances on the album. Tom Russell "rambles" with Jack on the stream-of-consciousness song speak, "Cup of Coffee," a tune Jack had written and performed with Johnny Cash a number of years back. Jack returns the favor on a duet with Tom for "The Sky Above and the Mud Below," a dark Russell composition about thievery and retribution. Another of Elliott's buddies from last year's "Monsters of Folk Tour," Dave Alvin harmonizes with Jack on the traditional ballad, "East Virginia Blues." Long-time friend and original from the early days in the Greenwich Village folk scene, Dave Van Ronk duets with Jack on the rousing chestnut, "St. James Infirmary." Finally, Maria Muldaur adds her lovely vocals to "Picture of Life's Other Side," a traditional folk song that Jack first heard sung by Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston while riding in a car almost 50 years ago. The breadth of the songs Ramblin' Jack Elliott performs on The Long Ride make it perhaps his most ambitiou.; recording ever. Included are his take on the classic Rolling Stones tune, "Connection," where he gets some crackling good support from Roy Rogers on electric guitar; a cover of "Pony," co-written by Tom Waits from his recent Mule Variations CD; a soulful vocal performance on country great Ernest Tubb's "Take Me Back and Try Me One More Time;" and a dead-on honest reading of Bob Dylan's anti-war song, "With God On Our Side." Of course it wouldn't be a Ramblin' Jack Elliott album without a least one Woody Guthrie song, and he obliges with a powerful version of the historical folk song, "Ranger's Command." What's on the horizon for Ramblin' Jack Elliott? His daughter, Aiyana, is hard at work finishing up a documentary film on her dad, which should become available next year; and the word is Jack might have a book deal in the works down the road a piece. Now that would be some interesting reading!
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04/03/2009 - Jack Elliott, rambling man - Read More
12/15/2008 - Ramblin' Jack Elliott plans new CD - Read More
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Average Rating : 5              Total Reviews: 1


Ramblin' Jack Elliot  02/18/2002            
WGM
Before Bob Dylan or Jerry Jeff there was Ramblin Jack. In the tradition of Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly Jack is the real thing. Folk, Americana, Country, or whatever you want to label it, Jack Elliot is an American treasure. A studio success such as this is rare for Jack, who has recorded sparingly for industry standards over the years. Sprinkled with Woody Guthrie classics and Tim Hardin's "If I Were a Carpenter" this is a classic album from one of the greeatest lineages in music.
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